Gender [was: RE: Betreft: Writing Systems and Biscriptal Children]
|Date:||Wednesday, December 1, 1999, 22:45|
Rob Nierse <rnierse@...> wrote:
> In Spanish some female words have the connotation of being
> bolso - bolsa, barco - barca etc..
> What does he do with that?
Hmm... _bolso_ is more like "purse" while _bolsa_ means "bag",
so yes, it's bigger. But _barca_, I don't know; it's very
rarely used (literary), and it sounds smaller to me (like
_bote_ vs. _barco_). There are some other strange pairs,
like _mazo_ 'mallet' vs. _maza_ 'mace' (the weapon),
_banco_ 'bank' vs. _banca_ 'the bank system', _grabador_
'recorder' (as in the small ones, used by journalists) vs.
_grabadora_ (as in a CD recorder). OTOH there are a lot
of feminines like _caja_ 'box' opposed to masculine "augmentatives"
like _caj=F3n_ 'drawer' (or _rata_ 'rat' vs. _rat=F3n_ 'mouse'). These
are really weird, since the "augmented" forms in <-=F3n> are usually
> So, obligatory conlang reference: those of you who do have gender in
> your language, is it masc/fem? and are masculine nouns more powerful?
Most of my langs don't have gender; it looks messy to me (and unexotic!).
But most of them do distinguish fem/masc/inanimate in 3rd person pronouns.
In Xkanxey (<x> =3D retroflex s) there are three genders named after
"elements": air, water and earth. Earth is associated with what we
would call 'yin' (feminine, quiet, protection, fertile); water is
'yang-ish' (masculine, dynamic, strength); air is reserved
for divine entities, emotions, and priestesses (which are always=20
virgin women). The culture is very structured. Married women are
at the lowest level; men have political power, and consecreted women
have religious power. There are pronouns for each gender, and for
each combination of speaker-addressee (i. e. a man doesn't use the
same pronoun to address his wife and a priestess, and each of them
uses a different pronoun to adress the man in question). As for common
nouns, the gender is more or less predictable (the element mainly
associated with them, or the one corresponding to the sex of the
average person who interacts with them) but of course there are many
fuzzy categories and pure arbitrariness.